This week I am thrilled to welcome Sarah Geringer to the Standing Against Satan Series. Her honesty speaks truth into the depths of rejection. And her words offer beautiful insight to those struggling with a fear of abandonment.
I have fought in a long battle against the enemy over my fear of abandonment.
As a child of divorce, I was a target for Satan. I struggled with this fear from the day my father left.
“If I really mattered,” I would secretly think, “maybe Daddy would have stayed.” Satan whispered that lie to me at age five, when the family split occurred, and kept repeating it to me for decades afterward.
Thankfully I learned about God through my church and school. I saw God as my Creator and Provider and even my Savior, but I didn’t see Him as my Father.
In my mind, fathers couldn’t be trusted.
My daddy wound hadn’t healed yet, and though I had faith, I still had a low sense of self-worth.
As the tumultuous adolescent years approached and family problems increased, I fell prey to that original lie and succumbed to other variations.
“No one really likes you.”
“No one would even miss you.”
“No one really loves you for who you are.”
Those destructive lies brought me to the pit of despair, and I considered throwing my life away.
One bleak afternoon when I was sixteen, I lay in bed after school, contemplating which method I would use to end my life. Then I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in my room, hovering over me. I felt warm and protected.
God spoke directly to my heart; I knew it was Him, even though I didn’t actually hear Him speak. He told me I didn’t need to think those thoughts anymore. Immediately I was flooded with peace. I hadn’t felt peaceful in a long time, and I knew God had a different plan for me.
After that powerful experience I began to understand the difference between what God told me and what Satan told me.
The words God spoke gave me life; the words Satan said led me toward death.
I began digging into the Bible for guidance.
As a college girl, I visited the peaceful banks of the Tennessee River one day after work. I asked God to speak to me through whichever verse appeared when I opened my Bible. There He spoke to my fear-rattled heart through Hebrews 13:5: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The meaning didn’t quite sink in right then, but as the years passed, I realized that verse was meant to be my personal healing balm.
The fear of abandonment struck me as a newlywed.
One evening my husband didn’t arrive home. I called his phone again and again with no answer. I called his friends but they hadn’t seen him. I panicked and called the sheriff’s office to report him missing. Right then he pulled in the driveway. He had been detained by a work assignment. I sobbed in his embrace. It took me a while to make the connection between that day and the day my father left. The me who was crying was the little girl inside, still trapped by the fear of abandonment.
After that episode I sought counseling. Through years of therapy I began to unpack the lies behind my fears.
I learned that I held relationships too closely, seeking my identity more in who I was to someone else (wife, daughter, friend) than who I was in the eyes of Jesus.
I couldn’t get past my fear until I realized that only God could fulfill the promise to always be there for me, no matter what. My trust in God grew through therapy and Bible study, and I began to see him as a loving Father.
My husband is also a child of divorce and had his own deep-seated fears. Our marriage was rocky for 15 years because neither of us had completely healed. Each year our problems reached new levels. On a Friday night in April 2015, my husband packed his bags and left.
My worst fear was coming to life again, but this time, I had our three children to worry about. I comforted them as best as I could, telling them I truly understood how they felt. I bottled up my emotions until the children were asleep. When I reached the master suite and saw my husband’s empty closet shelves, I broke down, overcome with terror. My fear was staring me in the face.
The enemy snarled, “You’re all alone again. Those empty shelves are proof.” For a moment I was that little five-year-old girl again, crying in her bed because she’d been abandoned.
But that night, God held me in his arms.
He fulfilled his promise to never leave me nor forsake me. His presence was real to me that night and in all the weeks of our separation, as I drew close to him in prayer and relied on the support of many other praying Christians. God empowered me to set boundaries that eventually restored our marriage.
I give God all the credit for helping me face my fear of abandonment. He knew it was my worst fear, and He wanted to show me I could conquer it with His power and strength, not mine. He healed our marriage and gave us both a second chance to move forward without fear.
Now when I hear those wicked whispers from Satan, I filter them through God’s powerful truth, and his lies no longer imprison me.
I know I am secure in God's love for me, and I have won the fight against the fear of abandonment.
Sarah Geringer is the author of three self-published books and blogs regularly at sarahgeringer.com. She loves writing in the morning, reading in the afternoon, and enjoying family time in the evening. Sarah lives in her beloved home state of Missouri with her husband and three children.